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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Two Women Have Dedicated Their Life To Helping Mentally Ill Homeless People

  • IWB Post
  •  May 16, 2019

For Vandana Gopikumar and Vaishnavi Jayakumar,  the founders of The Banyan (NGO), the last 25 years have been spent in providing treatment to mentally ill homeless people and connecting them with their homes.

This selfless journey started when in their 20s they met a six-year-old homeless girl along with her mother who had bipolar disorder. They would sleep outside Ethiraj College in Chennai. Vandana and Vaishnavi rescued the girl and brought her into their home in 1995 and today she works as a research assistant with The Banyan.

“She taught us that there are two ways you can live your life. Either be bogged down by how unfair your life is, or remember the people who loved you. Of all the things life had dealt her with, she chooses to remember how her mother took care of her and shielded her, despite dealing with mental illness and poverty,” said Vandana.

“People we try to help — the homeless who are mentally ill — are stuck in a nexus of poverty. Different governments have come and gone, but they are still in the same vicious cycle,” she added. “More than that, what can be frustrating is looking around and seeing people who just don’t care about these issues as long as it does not affect them, as long as their daily routines are not disturbed.”

When 46-year-old Vaishnavi is with these people she ‘feels at home.’ “I know they will never judge me, nor I them. It’s when I am my truest self,” she said. “I have learned that families need not always be the ones you are born with, they can also be created. And they last just as long.”

H/T: The Hindu

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